Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Christian Judgment

There's a quote from one of the books I'm reading for my next doctoral class that has me thinking about judgment.  It gets a bad name today:  "Don't judge me," "Who are you to judge?", "You're so judgmental."

Before I give the quote, let me say that sometimes Christians can be terribly and sinfully judgmental. For the record, so can people who are telling Christians not to be judgmental.  But that's a different blog post.

The kind of judgment referenced below might be called discernment, though the two are linguistically and conceptually close cousins.  But it comes with a pastoral kind of touch.
When I speak of Christian judgment, I mean a judgment wherein men do properly exercise reason, and have their reason under the due influence of love and other Christian principles; which don't blind reason but regulate its exercises; being not contrary to reason, though they be very contrary to censoriousness or unreasonable niceness and rigidness. (J. Edwards, An Humble Inquiry, Part I)
Did you catch that?  Being Christian and being discerning / judicial brings reason under the influence of love and other Christian ideals.  But that love doesn't blind the eyes.  It helps you see more clearly and think more astutely.

And here's the big, swinging right hook to finish and think about.

Pope Francis got some press this past week for taking the time to kiss a man who was covered in tumors from neurofibromatosis.  Good for him.

Which his more loving...

For Francis to be blind and indiscriminately kiss the man who he cannot see and thus cannot discern his physically deformed state?

Or for Francis to see that man clearly, and still choose to kiss him?

I argue the latter.  And that has implications:  to be loving, one must at times discern not only the situation but what love would call for in it.  See clearly all the sin and love anyway.  It's still sinful ugliness.  Calling it such makes the love more beautiful.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

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